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Plaid leader slams refusal to allow votes for 16-year-olds at 2016 Assembly elections

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM today condemned the refusal by the UK Government to allow the National Assembly the power to reduce the voting age to 16 for next year’s Assembly elections.

Leanne Wood was responding to a letter to the First Minister by the Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb, stating that no Parliamentary time had been set aside to alter the franchise for Assembly elections.

Leanne Wood said: "This is a disappointing decision.  There is widespread agreement that there is need to engage young people in the political process but the Secretary of State is refusing to allow the National Assembly the chance to give votes to 16 and 17-year-olds. It should be a matter for the Assembly anyway, not Westminster.  It is very short-sighted.

"The UK Government should be pulling out all the stops to widen democracy to include more young people.

"The Scottish Referendum was an exemplary exercise in fully engaging young people in democracy yet our National Assembly is being prevented from doing the same. This is a bad day for Wales and a bad day for democracy. Once again the people of Wales are being short-changed."

In his letter, Stephen Crabb said: "I consider it crucial that issues relating to Assembly elections are considered as a coherent package, within the St David’s Day process, and are not dealt with in isolation.

"No parliamentary provision has, therefore, been made to alter the franchise for Assembly elections or to devolve to the Assembly the power to decide whether 16 and 17 years olds could vote in the 2016 Assembly elections."